Archive for September, 1993

Family Court of Australia – Between: X (First Appellant) Y (Second Appellant) Z (Third Appellant) and A (First Respondent) B (Second Respondent)

September 13, 1993 Leave a comment

Family Law – Custody and Access – Findings of trial Judge as to credit and fact – Appeal – Powers and discretion of Full Court

Family Law – Custody and access – Conduct of parent – Sexual promiscuity

Family Law – Custody and access – Sexual abuse – Finding that sexual abuse had occurred

Family Law – Access – Categories of access parent – Nature of relationship with child

Family Law – Costs – Discretion Between 1979 and 1991, the first appellant (referred to in the judgment as X) was in a lesbian relationship with the first respondent (referred to as A). Throughout the relationship X’s pursuit of sexual liaisons with other women was a source of frequent tension and hostility.

In 1984, A was artificially inseminated by X, using a sperm sample provided by the second respondent, B. This was the culmination of discussions involving A, X and B between 1979 and 1984.

A gave birth to a son in March 1985. B visited the mother and child after the birth, and later maintained regular contact with the child.

B and X were married in 1987, partly to ease social circumstances for the child, partly to put X in a stronger position with respect to custody in the event of A’s death, and thirdly to help X’s ultimately unsuccessful political ambitions.

From early 1990, X’s parents , the second and third appellants, cared for the child after school four days a week. B cared for the child after school on the fifth day.

In February 1991, A left the home which the two women shared, taking the child with her. This was the culmination of a number of incidents and arguments concerning each woman’s authority over and access to the child. Between that time and the trial in August 1992, there was continued disputation between the appellants and the respondents over access to the child by X.

At the trial between the appellants and respondents over custody, guardianship and access to the child, A alleged that X had sexually abused the child from the age of one week until he was about two and a half. X denied the allegations.

The trial Judge found the allegations of sexual abuse proven, and granted guardianship and custody of the child to the respondents. The appellant’s applications for custody and access were dismissed, and they were ordered to pay one half of the respondents’ costs of the trial.

[Link: Court Decision]